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  • Writer's pictureTrevor Greenway

Rapids win thriller in overtime

The first goal he scored (in overtime) won the Rapids the series. 

Bryan Kealey’s heroic overtime playoff goal against the Bytown Royals may have been his first of the year but it was also the biggest. His goal, just three minutes and nine seconds into the first overtime on Feb. 18, sent his Paugan Falls Rapids into the second round of the Eastern Ontario Super Hockey League (EOSHL) playoffs and launched a raucous crowd of 500 fans into a frenzy of celebration. 

“I waited for the right time to score my first goal of the year, hey?” said a jovial Kealey, minutes after playing the overtime hero in the 4-3 win. 

Kealey is the oldest player on the team at 37 and has played every game as a solid, shut-down defenceman who never misses practice. He couldn’t contain his excitement after his historic, game-winning goal.

“We got the puck deep, and I picked it up, walked around the first guy and things opened up,” he said, taking the Low Down through the winning play. “I was able to come in and put [the puck] far side, post and in.”

Paugan Falls Rapids defenceman Bryan Kealey celebrates his game-winning goal in overtime during Game 2 of the Eastern Ontario Super Hockey League (EOSHL) playoffs on Feb. 18 at the Low arena as fans explode with excitement. The goal punched the Rapids’ ticket to the second round of the playoffs. Turn to pages 10 and 11 to read about the game and their second-round foes. Emily Crites photo

It was that “ping” sound off the post that had all 500 fans packed into the Low arena on their feet. A split second later, the place erupted in a sea of cheers after the puck stretched the twine inside the net. The puck was in and the game and the series over. 

“It was amazing,” added Kealey, sweat still pouring down his head and neck.

“Everybody was standing up, and I put both my hands up and skated and started tapping on the glass where the fans were. It was so loud.”

The crowd exploded with Kealey’s goal, with fans jumping up and down, embracing each other and banging on the glass where the Rapids were celebrating in a mad scrum of blue jerseys. It’s the Cinderella story heard ’round the league: The EOSHL’s newest team, the Rapids, with its 6-12-0 regular season record, barely slipped into the playoffs and then took out one of the league’s best – the Bytown Royals – in a two-game playoff series. To put things into context, the Rapids lost all four regular season outings to the Royals by a combined score of 38-13.  But, as captain Ryan Peck says, the Rapids are a far cry from the team they were last October. 

“The growth these guys have shown this year has been incredible,” said Peck outside the Rapids team dressing room minutes after taking down the juggernaut Royals. 

Peck was “Captain Clutch” through the two-game series, notching four goals and six points, including a four-point effort in Game 1 in Ottawa on Feb. 17 when the Rapids felled their foes 6-4. “From where we started, to what we are doing now, it’s just incredible.”

After winning Game 1, the Rapids again came out flying the next day for Game 2 and took an early 3-0 lead in front of their home crowd in Low. The game seemed to be in the Rapids’ control, but several delays – including a bad injury that sent a Royals player to hospital – halted the game for close to an hour. There were also problems with the ice. Despite losing a player to injury, the Royals stormed back to tie the game at 3-3 before Kealey ended it with his overtime heroics. 

Rapids goaltender Aiden Foley faced a barrage of shots in the game, making an impressive 49 saves en route to his second Star of the Game honours. Foley is also a paramedic by trade and went into medic mode when the Royals player was injured. He ripped off his gear and began attending to the player, along with several volunteer Low firefighters. An ambulance later arrived and took the player to the Wakefield Hospital to be treated for shoulder and elbow injuries. Foley was impressed with how his team stayed focused throughout the entire ordeal. 

“I feel like we all came together as a team for the last two games, and we just had the mentality to win,” said Foley, his goalie pads still strapped to his legs. “All the fans are so dedicated, even if we are losing 12-0, they are all here in support of us.”

Head coach Randy Peck said he knows his team will be in another intense dogfight in Round 2 with the league’s best, The North Dundas Rockets, who have won the EOSHL championship the past two years in a row. The Rockets lost just one game this season and amassed an impressive 20-1 record. But Randy’s certainly not counting his Rapids out of it – especially since they just turned the tables on the Royals, who had their number all season long. 

“We’re feeling pretty good,” said Randy. “It was a big tough chore to win two straight against that team, especially after they dominated us all season. But we are not the same team now that we were at the start of the season.” They’ll have to be at their best if they want a chance at taking down the Rockets. The best of five series kicks off in Chesterville Feb. 24 at 2:15 p.m. and will head back to Low for Game 2 Feb. 25 at 3 p.m.  Game 3 will be back in Chesterville and, if necessary, Game 4 in Low.  


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